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The meaning and practice of stewardship in South Africa

Cockburn J., Cundill G., Shackleton S., Rouget M.. 2019. South African Journal of Science, 115 (5/6) : p. 1-10.

Stewardship offers a means of addressing social-ecological sustainability challenges, from the local to the global level. The concept of stewardship has had various meanings attached to it over time, and the links between the theory and practice of stewardship are not well understood. We sought to characterise the practice of stewardship in South Africa, to better understand the relationship between theory and practice. We found that practitioners' understandings of stewardship coalesce around two core notions: the idea of stewardship as 'responsible use and care' of nature, and stewardship as a 'balancing act' between stewards' use of natural resources for agricultural production and their responsibility to protect and manage the wider ecosystem. Stewardship practice in South Africa is strongly influenced by the biodiversity stewardship tool; however, many practitioners are integrating biodiversity stewardship with other approaches. These emerging social-ecological stewardship initiatives operate at landscape-level and work towards integrated social and ecological stewardship outcomes, by facilitating collaboration among diverse stakeholders. Further research is needed to better understand what is required to support these integrated, collaborative and cross-sectoral initiatives. Policy mechanisms that facilitate integrated place-based stewardship practice can contribute to expanding the practice of biodiversity stewardship in South Africa.

Mots-clés : ressource naturelle; connaissance indigène; développement durable; conservation du paysage; services écosystémiques; biodiversité; afrique du sud; socio-écologie; multifonctionnalité

Thématique : Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières; Autres thèmes

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